It was the trip of a lifetime. Here we were, touring Scotland after spending some time in Ireland and England. Along the way, with our host, we made a stop that was not on our itinerary—Lockerbie, Scotland. As my wife and I perused the items in the small museum last year, it was a poignant reminder of the tragic downing of Pan American Airlines Flight 103 on December 21, 1988. The horror of the bombing sunk in as we saw the pictures of the victims and the devastation that occurred in the neighborhoods where the plane had plummeted to the ground. What had been a newspaper story and television coverage years before became very real to us as we viewed the pictorial evidence.
My ancestors sprang from the region, so as we left the museum and walked through the ancient cemetery we looked for markers that might bear our surname. At the back of the cemetery, we came upon an immaculately maintained monument bearing the names of those lost in the tragedy. There were some pictures of the deceased. It was a quiet moment for us to consider the shock and horror the passengers must have felt, and to think about the 270 lives cut off in an instant because of hatred, prejudice and a radical political agenda. It was a morning to remember, spent contemplating a great human tragedy.
Now, a little more than a year later, I was astounded by the news that the only individual convicted in the Lockerbie bombing has been released, just 8 years into his 27-year murder sentence—allowed to return to his country because of a terminal illness. "An act of mercy," says the Scottish government. "An affront! A travesty!" say the families of the victims. The rest of us watch in amazement as it all plays out.
Has justice been served by the release of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi? Should mercy have been extended? Opinions will vary from observer to observer, depending on one's frame of reference, perspective and political viewpoint. Whatever one's opinion, we can all agree that this world's judicial system is imperfect, and we live with the consequences.
But it won't always be this way! The Bible gives us a perspective on the execution of justice. King Solomon wrote: "Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (Ecclesiastes 8:11).
While inequities abound, and the guilty now often go free, your Bible describes a soon-coming time when things will be much different, in the Kingdom of God. The prophet Isaiah wrote of the coming Messiah and the profound changes He will make when His kingdom is set up on the earth: "But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked" (Isaiah 11:4). And he wrote: "Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, ever forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this" (Isaiah 9:7).
Until that Kingdom is set up on earth, true justice will not be available. But finally, in God's Kingdom, those who have been wronged will receive justice and equity. Those who deserve mercy will receive it, while the incorrigibly wicked will be destroyed. "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8).
Our encouraging and inspiring booklet, The World Ahead, What Will It Be Like? will give you more details of what is to come. This priceless information is free of charge; you can read it online or order your own printed copy, absolutely free. You may also want to watch our Tomorrow's World telecast, "A New World Is Coming." It will inspire and encourage you about a soon-coming time when justice and mercy will prevail on the earth, under the loving rule of Jesus Christ. God speed that day!